While the deduction board is a stand out minigame there are several others that are not very important towards the overall story and only serve as an impediment towards the player. Several of these minigames are not preceded by instructions on how to solve them while others were. I did enjoy the challenge of these minigames because Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be presented with instructions either. However, the downfall of many of these puzzles was the poor controls given to players to solve them. Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is a port of a PC game released last year, and it is clear that the bare minimum amount of effort was put into porting this game to the 360.
Not only were these control problems present in the minigames but also in the movement controls of the title. The first person controls are nowhere near as tight as other first person shooters of this generation. I actually found myself developing a headache and slight nausea from playing this game through the first person perspective. It should be mentioned it can also be played in third person. The third person view is not the typical over the shoulder or slightly over the head point of view most will be accustomed to. Instead it is a fixed cinematic camera that will change perspectives periodically depending on where the player moves. The third person mode isn’t perfect either; the camera will often shift to a different angle than the player was previously accustomed to causing the direction controls to change with them.
Compared to other current generation games, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the ripper does not look very good. The environment and characters are noticeably not up to the graphic standard of current gen games. The cut scenes that take place during conversations will contain the same animations whenever you talk to a character. Every cut scene experiences large lip syncing issues, reminding me of a 70s Kung Fu movie; even though the dialogue may be over the lips will continue to move. Apart from the actor who voices Sherlock Holmes, the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired but is often quite humorous. Much of the dialogue, particularly Sherlock Holmes is well written but ill performed. Several times throughout the game I noticed the screen visibly shaking during cut scenes. I thought it may be a problem with the TV but it continued to occur on two other televisions.
While playing through the game in first person, Sherlock would spin around in circles without any prompting from the controller. After a cut scene or conversation ended and just in the middle of play, the screen would spin as if I was holding the stick to the left or right. It is by no means a game breaking error but it happened often enough that it should be mentioned. The game would have also benefited greatly from an autosave system. With the abundance of loading screens and steady change of locations, one would assume that the game would save itself.
Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper delivers a compelling mystery that puts an interesting twist on the White Chapel murders while offering a story that could very well have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. The game is unfortunately weighed down by subpar graphics, ported PC controls, and general cosmetic and mechanical problems. I put up with most of the problems because of my fascination with the mystery, but in the end I would have much rather read this story than play the game.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper.